Commentary Archive

A preseason look at the stats that matter for Indiana

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While it’s true talent is the biggest factor in winning big at any level in sports, there are also numbers and trends that we can correlate to success. Advanced statistics are the reason why Ken Pomeroy’s ratings are often more predictive than any top 25 poll or preseason prediction.

This preseason, Indiana is being picked all across the board and the season that lies ahead holds more uncertainty and intrigue than last for a variety of reasons.

Among them:

- The Big Ten, beyond Wisconsin, appears to be wide open.
- Indiana underwent major roster turnover for a second straight offseason.
- Indiana added several players who appear capable of shoring up a major 3-point shooting deficiency.
- Indiana lost the best rebounder in the conference and it’s fair to ask: “Does this roster possess the pieces to replace that production?”

All of those themes and questions will come more into focus over time as the games are played and the season rolls along. It’s quite possible the Big Ten will have a more defined hierarchy than many believe. It’s also possible that Indiana’s shooting will be better (or worse) than many are predicting. And the rebounding and roster turnover pieces may (or may not) play as big of a role as we think.

But as we study the numbers and look at what it’s going to take for Indiana to be successful this year, several things stand out. Here they are:

· Turnovers should be a major focus: Many of Indiana’s failures last season were blamed on turnovers. This was not unjustified. The Hoosiers ranked 330th nationally in turnover percentage, last in the Big Ten and last among teams in a BCS conference.

Interestingly, something not many are talking about is Indiana has been average at best in this department for the last six years. Here’s Indiana’s turnover percentage and Big Ten rank for conference games over the last six years:

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What to watch for: Hoosier Hysteria

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With the 2014 version of Hoosier Hysteria just a day away, the Inside the Hall team looks at three things to watch in Assembly Hall:

· A bigger focus on basketball: Hoosier Hysteria is never short on entertainment and there will be plenty of pyro and bright lights to ensure that element is still present, but you can also expect some enhancements to make the event better from a basketball perspective.

For example, the 3-point shootout is expected to be preceded by shooting drills so that the participants — James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson, Yogi Ferrell, Nick Zeisloft, Max Hoetzel and Collin Hartman — are ready and warmed up before any shots go up.

Hysteria is also expected to include a brief scrimmage and a dunk contest. But unlike the last two years where the event seemed to drag on at times, this year’s version will focus more on shooting and tightening the script. It will be, we’re told, an “ode to fans.” — Alex Bozich

· A chance to get a first glimpse at offseason progress and the newcomers: Indiana’s trip to Canada in August gave us a sneak preview of what to expect heading into the 2014-2015 season, but neither Emmitt Holt or Hanner Mosquera-Perea made the trek, which still leaves some intrigue heading into Saturday.

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2014-2015 Player Profile: Yogi Ferrell

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With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ve taken a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the past month. Today, we conclude our look at Indiana’s roster with Yogi Ferrell.

As the lone holdover with significant experience from Indiana’s 2012-2013 Big Ten championship team, junior point guard Yogi Ferrell has experienced quite a bit in his first two seasons in Bloomington.

During his freshman campaign, Ferrell had to pick his spots on the floor and act primarily as a distributor for a team that was ranked No. 1 in the country for much of the regular season. And then as a sophomore, with four starters gone and a team that lacked shooters, he was forced to shoulder a heavy offensive load on a team that ultimately fizzled before March Madness ever got underway.

It was a drastic shift of fortunes for both Ferrell and Indiana from his freshman to sophomore seasons. As a junior, the Park Tudor product will again be thrust into a bit of change in his role.

“I need to be more of a facilitator,” he said last week at Big Ten media day in Chicago. “We have a lot of shooters now, so that burden is kind of lifted off a little bit. This year what I want to focus on is not turning the ball over so much.”

But beyond just the numbers, the program also needs a more mature junior campaign from its most experienced player.

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2014-2015 Player Profile: Nick Zeisloft

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With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’re taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster this month. Today, we continue our look at Indiana’s roster with Nick Zeisloft.

When word broke in early July that Indiana was looking into adding Illinois State transfer Nick Zeisloft, the news was met with some skepticism.

With scholarships at a premium and a solid contingency of guards already on the roster, what was piquing the staff’s interest in a 35.9 percent 3-point shooter with two years of eligibility remaining?

Tom Crean addressed that question shortly after it was announced that Zeisloft would be coming to Indiana with immediate eligibility.

“The addition of Nick allows us to spread and space the floor even more and play with more pace,” Crean said. “More importantly, we are adding a young man that has been raised well and has been well coached throughout his career. He brings a physical and mental toughness that has allowed him to play at a strong level and brings leadership and maturity to our program.”

Our first glimpse at Zeisloft came in August in Montreal where he averaged 8.8 points and hit 11 of his 20 attempts from behind the 3-point arc in 21.4 minutes per game. Zeisloft looked confident in his shot and it seemed as if he’d already earned the respect of his teammates despite being with the program for less than a month.

The start of practice and last week’s Big Ten media day in Chicago have only confirmed that Crean believes Zeisloft will be an important part of this team.

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2014-2015 Player Profile: Hanner Mosquera-Perea

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With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’re taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster this month. Today, we continue our look at Indiana’s roster with Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Hanner Mosquera-Perea is the Colombian Question Mark.

Any strong prognostications on just what to expect from the junior this season seems a fool’s errand. It’s not that he won’t or can’t take a leap closer to his potential. It’s just his career has been one incident after another, and you start to wonder if he can ever take his gladiator body and couple it with adequate court awareness and fundamentals to become a reliable frontcourt factor.

The nine games missed as a freshman due to a misguided NCAA judgement. The DWI a season ago. And most recently, the missed Canada trip due to visa issues.

It’s reasonable to expect Mosquera-Perea to start. It’s reasonable to expect he’ll be better. But just how much better is the unknown right now.

To spend more time on the court, it’ll help if he cuts down on fouls (6.1 per 40 minutes, second worst on team behind Devin Davis at 7.4) and turnovers (25.7 turnover percentage, second worst on team to Davis at 25.8 percent). Tom Crean likes his teams to get to the line. More court time for Mosquera-Perea, who led the team in free throw rate (117.5) and shot it decent from there (72.3 percent) should mean more points, especially if he’s getting easy dump-off and putback opportunities from Indiana’s perimeter threats as they take it into the paint.

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag: October 21

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

hoosiersftw on the premium forum writes: In the opinion of the ITH staff, what are reasonable expectations for this team? An improved B1G record? A return to the NCAA tournament? More?

For this question, I solicited the opinion of ITH co-founder Ryan Corazza as well beat writer Jordan Littman. Corazza: “I think a return to the tourney qualifies as reasonable, which would likely mean an improved Big Ten record.” And Littman: “Well firstly, I think a reasonable expectation for this team would be a return to being regarded for its shooting. This year’s squad has many more capable shooters than last year’s, and multiple in-game scoring droughts last season certainly did not help the Hoosiers. As far as results-based expectations are concerned, though, it’s a bit difficult to say as nobody has seen this team in action. And 60 percent of the entire roster has never even played a game in the cream and crimson. That said, though, there always is a pressure for Indiana to make the NCAA tournament, and I think that also is an expectation for this season.”

Assuming Indiana improves its Big Ten record, it should be in contention for a NCAA tournament bid. That would mean it would have at least eight conference wins and if you reasonably assume ten non-conference wins, 18 wins (at minimum) going into the Big Ten tournament at least gives the Hoosiers a chance. I think getting back to the NCAA tournament is certainly reasonable to expect. — Alex Bozich

Mike Stepp on Facebook writes: What’s the latest status of the Jeremiah April injury? And if healthy what kind of role can we expect him to play this season?

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2014-2015 Player Profile: Collin Hartman

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With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’re taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster this month. Today, we continue our look at Indiana’s roster with Collin Hartman.

Collin Hartman’s freshman season at Indiana ended with a whimper rather than a bang.

Brought in by Indiana coach Tom Crean to be a shooter on a team that desperately needed them, Hartman played the first two games of the Hoosiers’ season as the first player off the bench. But after that, Hartman rarely saw action on the court, amassing just 16 minutes of play during the entire Big Ten season.

Perhaps he wasn’t aggressive enough in the opportunities he was given. But it was expected he would have the entire offseason to work on his game and gain more confidence on the court heading into his sophomore season.

That never happened.

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